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Florida… They’re Good

The hit heard round the world.

The hit heard round the world.

The obviousness of that headline will come as no surprise to anyone who follows college football even a little bit. Florida is the defending national champions, returning a staunch defense and a QB that garners almost as much attention nationally as a naked Erin Andrews. That’s impressive. What wasn’t impressive was the way Saturday started, and it certainly wasn’t impressive when the aforementioned Gator demi-God wearing #15 was leveled and carted off the field. For anyone who wondered if Tebow was mortal, watching him ride a golf cart and puke into a plastic bag should answer that question pretty emphatically.

For the record, the hit was clean, nasty, and absolutely sickening. I’m sure there were a few people in the college football universe that smiled to themselves for the supposed karmic comeuppance for Tebow, and for those people, I, and Jesus, have one particular gesture for you. It can be seen here. Good.

When the Tebow hit happened, then replayed, then replayed, then replayed over and over I felt the same way I did after Sam Bradford went down, would feel the same way if Colt McCoy went down, and felt the same last year watching Dante Love go down. It’s a heartbreaking moment or three when an athlete in prime physical condition at the top of their game risks health and their future to entertain me for a couple hours on a Saturday. It looks now like it isn’t ridiculously serious, and he gets a week or two to recover. That’s good news all around.

As for the Wildcat performance, there isn’t really much to say, as Kentucky didn’t look anything like a team worth talking about. Outgained by a large margin, an inability to sustain any kind of offensive attack, a lackluster defensive effort, and a painfully damning start ended this movie before it ever got going. I think I, like most everyone else, expected a Florida win, but I did expect Kentucky to keep it much closer than the spread (22) and if things broke just the right way… they might turn into Cinderalla again. Unfortunately, Cinderalla was nowhere close to Commonwealth, and even the ugly stepsister wasn’t paying attention either.

It was a folly of errors for the Cats, penalties, blown coverages, etc. that certainly helped Florida throw it on cruise control. As much as it pains me to say it, despite the improvement in this program and on this team lately, we are still light years away from competing for the SEC. Teams that cannot stop the run, blow coverages, struggle offensively, and shoot themselves in the foot do not win conference titles. They also don’t beat the #1 team in the country, flu symptoms or not.

Now… is any of this the least bit surprising? Of course not. So that’s why this game is like the bad case of Mexican shits the night after burritos and margaritas. You flush it down and move on to the next meal. For us, that’s Alabama. And frankly, I detest the Crimson Tide a whole hell of a lot more than I ever will the Gators. Roll Tide? Spare me.

Wildcat Wrap Up: Vandy

What really is there to say about this 31-24 loss to Vandy? First of all, congrats to the ‘Dores. It’s a remarkable turnaround down in Nashville thanks to Bobby Johnson, and the Commodores played inspired football on Saturday night in Lexington. The overall atmosphere from most of the UK bloggers and fans seems to be a giant “Oh well…”. No uproar. No yelling and screaming. No completely irrational angst directed at players, coaches, fans, or the Easter Bunny. Maybe it was because of the Cats’ loss on Friday on the hardwood. For me, it was something else entirely.

Disappointment by nature comes after expending hope. Hope comes from expectations, and I had none for this football team. Most teams after a 4-0 start allow themselves some measure of guarded optimism. Not this year. Not this team. This was an odd Kentucky team from the word “Go!” this season. Wins were often more infuriating and frustrating than losses. It was a season that at the beginning saw forecasts from fans ranging from an absurd 2 wins to an even more absurd 9 wins.

And here we sit, at 6-5, with the conclusion of the regular season one game away. At worst, this Kentucky team goes 6-6 and at best 7-5. Considering all this team has been through from graduations to injuries, it’s not a small accomplishment… it’s a great one. Historically, there have been flashes of greatness at Kentucky with the cyclical return to mediocrity right around the corner. And while 6-6 is by no means “great”, it is an accomplishment of no small measure when the season and the intangibles are taken into context.

As for the Vanderbilt game, it was simply two evenly matched teams on the field. One played inspired, motivated, and precise, and the other played arguably their worst half of football in recent memory. It’s hard to win ball games when everything goes wrong. And yet, here was this Kentucky team not giving up, playing to the whistle (and sometimes beyond it), and making it a game. I’m not one for moral victories, as any loss sucks, but the bottom line in this one is that it doesn’t leave me depressed like some of the wins have. It’s really a “Well… good game Vandy. On to Tennessee” sort of feeling.

What the conclusion of this season has in store for the Wildcats I have no idea. But I can tell you that were I an opposing coach of this team in a Bowl Game, after the Cats have several weeks to prepare, rest, and get healthy, I would be very very concerned. This Kentucky football team is not a great team. They are also not a bad team. They are a good team that had bad things happen to them. And at least for this Kentucky fan, that’s ok for this year.

Wildcat Wrap Up: Georgia

There really isn’t a lot to say about the Georgia game. It was a game Kentucky shouldn’t have won but could have. It was a game that the offense woke up and put up decent points and stats, and the defense failed miserably. It was a game that again highlighted the massive amounts of injuries Kentucky has had to deal with this season, this week highlighted by injuries to Trevard Lindley and DeMoreo Ford.

I guess when reality sets in, this is a Kentucky unit that I think most everyone thought would struggle this year, and the fact remains that they are Bowl eligible. They competed in nearly every game, save for Florida, and had several teams of remarkable stature on the ropes late in the game. There has been improvement week to week, and Coach Brooks and co. have coached through a tumultuous offense, up and down defense, and a hard biting injury bug, to finish no worse than .500 this season. All great things.

The future looks bright for these Wildcats, as they close with Tennessee and Vanderbilt, will go bowling come December, and have a solid recruiting class stepping onto campus next fall. This season could have been a whole lot worse, so all things considered, I’m happy for Big Blue.

Wildcat WrapUp: Alabama

There are two ways to take this Alabama game. If you had told me that Kentucky would play the #2 team in the nation within three points, especially given the fact that said #2 team absolutely decimated Georgia at Athens and Clemson, I would be happy. If you were to tell me that Kentucky would hold that #2 team in the country to 106 yards through the air, 5-17 on the 3rd downs, and force 3 turnovers, I would be thrilled. So those are all things that Cat fans can take away from this game.

The bad came down to two plays… Glen Coffee’s 218 yards on the ground (which includes a 78-yard scamper), and Mike Hartline’s fumble. Hartline will take a beating for that play, which resulted in a Bama TD, so I won’t harp on it too much, but it’s unacceptable. I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s happening, but I know it has got to stop. And I also know that Hartline had best enjoy his time as QB1, because come next fall, with the arrival of Ryan Mossakowski and Morgan Newton, it’s over. As for Coffee’s rushing stats, you knock out the 78-yarder and he put up 130. Good, but not fantastic. Two plays. 14 points for Bama. That’s kind of large.

I said it on Saturday evening, and I’ll say it again now… Alabama didn’t win this game. Kentucky lost it. Yes, Alabama is a great team. Yes, it still goes down as a loss. Alabama fans will call me stupid and ridiculous. But you really take a look at the box score and you notice that Kentucky hung with Alabama. Yes, the rushing was stagnant. Yes, there were WAY too many drops by the Kentucky receiving corps. But after the love fest Bama was getting from the national media, the fact UK hung with them is a good thing and won’t hurt the team too bad in the national purview.

All in all, I’m not happy that Kentucky lost, and certainly not happy with the way Kentucky lost, but it could have been markedly worse. Most pundits and experts (yours truly included) thought this was going to be a bloodbath. It wasn’t, and I have no choice but to focus on that and get ready for South Carolina this weekend.

Rich Brooks’ post game comments. He sounds just simply defeated. He, as most Kentucky fans, know they could have won this game but beat themselves:

Wildcat WrapUp: MTSU

Alright, alright, alright. I blew it. On this very webpage last week I predicted an assbeating of epic proportions. A thrashing from pillar to post of the MTSU Blue Raiders by Kentucky, the likes of which would force all the MTSU fans to crawl back into the Tennessee holes from whence they came. I’ll have my crow medium well with a side of cole slaw.

There really isn’t much good to take away, aside from getting the 20-14 win, and though happy about that, here’s what troubles me:

  • The O-line looked awful. Miserable. Dreadful. Insert other negative adjective here. Simply unacceptable, and with play like that in SEC competition, we’re going to get beat often and badly. It’s got to improve.
  • Injuries to key players like Randall Cobb, Micah Johnson, TC Drake, and Ricky Lumpkin. The whole purpose of playing payday games like this is to get the W, get out uninjured, and go on to the next week. Epic fail on the injury-free front, and a nearly epic fail on the W front.
  • I realize we don’t have sure-handed big play guys like Stevie Johnson, Keenan Burton, and Jacob Tamme anymore, but there were multiple drops by almost everyone. It’s unacceptable as well, and again, if that continues during SEC play, we’re screwed.
  • Hey, Lonas Seiber, if you don’t want to be a kicker, that’s fine. Just turn in your pads and quit. But your effort on Saturday was a joke. With an offense that has the propensity to sputter at times, you’ve got to make field goals. Anything over 40, I’ll somewhat forgive, but the short misses are ridiculous.
    I’d give you a different finger, Lonas

Of course, all this sounds very Chicken Little-ish, and I suppose to a certain extent, it shouldn’t be. The second half was clearly dominated statistically by Kentucky. There were key injuries which resulted in depth issues, mismatches, and a lack of momentum and energy on the Kentucky sideline. I get it. But the blocked field goal and hail mary was reminiscent of the Kentucky teams I’ve been suffering through before the last several years.

Even with all that, which is troubling and hurts Kentucky, let’s keep something in perspective… we were basically one yard away from being a joke on Sportscenter. Other than the win, which I’m thankful for, there is virtually nothing to be thankful for on this Monday morning as a UK fan. As bad as this team played, we deserved to lose. And any team worth a damn would have beaten us.

The injuries are troubling and could have serious ramifications, and to be frank, another mediocre performance against WKU in two weeks and I’ll have some serious reservations about the potential of this team. Thank God for the bye week, folks. Rich Brooks said mid-week that this was a team that lacked focus and effort, and it certainly showed on Saturday. We play like that against any SEC team and we’re getting pummeled.